|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 143, Part II, 21 October 1997
A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline CENTRAL ASIA IN TRANSITION: Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This six-part report on the RFE/RL Web site details how much has changed since the collapse of the USSR -- and how much has not. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/asia/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *LUKASHENKA CALLS FOR TIGHTER CUSTOMS UNION *PRAISE FOR DJUKANOVIC VICTORY IN MONTENEGRO *ALBANIAN MILITARY CHIEF SAYS BERISHA PLANNED "MASSACRE" End Note MILOSEVIC'S RIVAL WINS MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENCY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE LUKASHENKA CALLS FOR TIGHTER CUSTOMS UNION. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent a message to the heads of the three other members of the customs union within the CIS calling for increased economic integration, Interfax reported on 20 October. He sent the message in his capacity as chairman of that body's interstate council, even though Moscow indicated on the same day that it would like to see the chairmanship handed to one of the other member states (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1997). UKRAINE HOPES FOR BETTER TRADE TERMS WITHIN CIS. Nikolai Doroshenko, a senior official in the presidential administration, said on 20 October that Kyiv hopes the upcoming CIS summit in Chisinau will resolve trade problems within that organization, Interfax- Ukraine reported. But Doroshenko noted that Kyiv is not satisfied with many provisions of the documents drafted for that meeting. He also criticized the emergence of the four-member customs union. Meanwhile, Mikhail Shmakov, the leader of the Russian independent trade union federation, told Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma that he hoped "integration ties" between Russia and Ukraine will be revived, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 October. In other news, the IMF began a review of its standby loan for Ukraine because Kyiv has not kept to the monthly budget deficit ceiling. CHORNOBYL DRIVERS STAGE PROTEST IN UKRAINIAN CAPITAL. Some 50 truck drivers who work in the "dead zone" around the troubled Chornobyl nuclear power plant staged a protest in Kyiv on 20 October to demand payment of wage arrears, Ukrainian media reported. The Ukrainian Energy Ministry said it would like to pay the drivers but has no money to do so. ESTONIAN WRITERS HINDERED FROM ATTENDING FINNO-UGRIC SEMINAR? Five Estonian writers say they have been hindered from attending a workshop of Finno-Ugric authors in Komi Republic, Russia, ETA and BNS reported on 20 October. Arvo Valton, who is also a former parliamentary deputy, was denied a visa, while the four other writers received visas with incorrect entry and departure dates. Valton claimed the action was deliberate, saying it was not the first time Russian authorities have sought to obstruct scientific and cultural cooperation among Finno-Ugric nations. ALLEGED SLANDER AGAINST LANDSBERGIS TO BE INVESTIGATED. The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office has initiated criminal proceedings to investigate allegations of slander against parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, BNS reported on 20 October. The decision followed a request by a parliamentary commission screening deputies for possible collaboration with the KGB. The commission had refused to regard as evidence testimonies submitted by former KGB officers alleging that Landsbergis had links to the Soviet security service in the 1960s. POLISH PARTIES AGREE ON DIVISION OF MINISTRIES. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) will control the Prime Minister's Office and 10 ministries, while its junior coalition partner, the Freedom Union will have seven ministries, PAP reported on 20 October. That division was agreed to only at the last minute after a sharp debate within the AWS parliamentary faction. Neither party has yet announced its candidates for all its slots. Also on 20 October, the parliament elected Maciej Plazynski as speaker, while President Aleksander Kwasniewski urged the coalition parties to work together to help Poland join NATO and the EU. U.K. MAY REIMPOSE VISAS FOR CZECHS, SLOVAKS. Faced with a rising tide of Roma seeking asylum, the British Home Office announced on 20 October that London may reimpose a visa requirement for Czechs and Slovaks, CTK reported. British officials stressed, however, that no decision to do so has yet been reached. OSCE REJECTS SLOVAK CHARGES. The Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe released a statement on 20 October dismissing charges by Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that the body has adopted biased policies. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel said his organization has paid equal attention to the Slovak minority in Hungary and the Hungarian minority in Slovakia and has not "written off" the former, as Meciar has charged. HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WITHDRAWS RESIGNATION. Ivan Szabo has withdrawn his resignation as chairman and parliamentary faction leader of the Democratic People's Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997), Hungarian media reported on 20 October. He said that if his vision of the party's future is endorsed at the November national convention, he will not give up his posts. Addressing a meeting of the party's parliamentary faction, Szabo said his party cannot adjust its program to meet the expectations of either the government or the opposition; rather, he said, it should develop an independent profile. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE PRAISE FOR DJUKANOVIC VICTORY IN MONTENEGRO. A U.S. State Department spokesman called Milo Djukanovic's triumph in the 19 October elections a "hopeful sign," adding that Washington hopes for an improvement in bilateral relations and for greater Montenegrin support for the Dayton peace agreements. In Belgrade, Serbian opposition leaders Zoran Djindjic, Vesna Pesic, and Vuk Draskovic each issued statements praising the Montenegrin election results. Pesic said that Djukanovic's win marked a victory of "the future over the past." Observers in Montenegro noted that Djukanovic owed his triumph mainly to the support of young people, the coastal regions, and the Albanian and Muslim ethnic minorities (see also "End Note" below). BELGRADE CHALLENGES DJUKANOVIC. Yugoslav Justice Minister Zoran Knezevic said in Belgrade on 20 October that the Montenegrin presidential vote was "a farce." He added he does not "believe [the official election results reflect] the choice of the citizens of Montenegro." Meanwhile in Podgorica, outgoing president and defeated presidential candidate Momir Bulatovic said he will challenge the results on account of unspecified irregularities. Bulatovic's office issued a statement saying that "as long as doubts over the poll's regularity have not been lifted, we will not recognize [poll] and we will call for it to be scrapped." Observers said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his allies in Montenegro want to exert pressure on Djukanovic, either to force him from office or to compel him to tone down his opposition to Milosevic. PROTESTS IN BELGRADE OVER MURDER OF ROM. Some 1,000 people demonstrated in Belgrade on 20 October to protest the murder of Dusan Jovanovic, a Romani teenager, by skinheads two days earlier. The protesters charged that the killing was the latest example of increasing violence by skinheads against Roma. They also accused the police of not providing sufficient help. A spokesman for the Belgrade-based Roma Congress Party said the murder highlights the growing insecurity felt by Roma across Federal Yugoslavia. Spokesmen for the Belgrade Center for Human Rights and the Antiwar Campaign said the killing mirrors what they called the general social decline brought about by the current political system, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Meanwhile, police have detained two 17-year-olds in connection with the murder. KOSOVAR LEADER OFFERS DIALOG WITH BELGRADE. Kosovo shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova said in Pristina on 20 October that the current situation in the province is difficult and could become worse, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. Rugova singled out what he called the provocative and aggressive behavior of the Serbian police for criticism. He called for talks with the Belgrade authorities aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Kosovo problem, but only with the participation of the U.S. and the EU. Observers noted that the Serbian authorities reject any foreign involvement in the Kosovo issue, which Belgrade considers an internal Serbian matter. UN CALLS FOR "MORE PROGRESS" IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. The UN Security Council on 20 October urged Croatia to implement its obligations on the return of refugees and on other matters related to the transfer of Serb-held eastern Slavonia to full Croatian control. The Council added that Zagreb has enough time to meet its obligations by the projected 15 January deadline for UN administration of the region to end. Croatian Ambassador to the UN Ivan Simonovic said he is glad that the resolution mentions the 15 January deadline. In Vukovar, UN administrators said they welcome the Croatian government's recent appeal to the local media to show more tolerance and balance in covering interethnic relations in eastern Slavonia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Vukovar. NATO USES AIRCRAFT TO BROADCAST TO BOSNIAN SERBS. SFOR began using a special aircraft on 19 October to jam a frequency normally used by hard-line Pale TV in eastern Bosnia. Broadcasts from the plane over the same frequency told television viewers that NATO took Pale TV off the air because of its bias and hate- mongering. The NATO broadcast added that Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's Banja Luka TV will soon be seen throughout Bosnian Serb territory. SFOR spokesmen in Sarajevo noted this was the first time that NATO had used such an aircraft to jam unwanted television transmissions and to broadcast its own message. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Sarajevo, has warned Pale TV against trying to get back on air by using pirate transmitters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1997). ALBANIAN MILITARY CHIEF SAYS BERISHA PLANNED "MASSACRE." General Aleks Andoni, the Socialist-appointed head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Tirana on 20 October that former President Sali Berisha and his top military officials gave orders to use air strikes and other means of force to quell the unrest earlier this year. Addressing a meeting on the disintegration of the military at the time of the anarchy, Andoni claimed that Berisha planned a "massacre" of civilians. Prime Minister Fatos Nano praised soldiers and pilots who disobeyed Berisha's orders to attack civilians. He added that the authorities should take legal measures against those individuals responsible for the disintegration of the army. ALBANIAN COURT DROPS CHARGES AGAINST LAST COMMUNIST CHIEF. A Tirana court on 20 October dropped charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against former President Ramiz Alia and other former communist leaders. The Supreme Court recently recommended that the charges be dropped because the men's actions were not criminal under the law in force at the time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997). Alia left office in 1992 and was subsequently jailed on two occasions. He fled prison and the country during this year's anarchy. Alia's friends in Tirana have said he will return to Albania once he has recovered from eye surgery in Sweden. ROMANIAN 'REVOLUTIONARIES' STRIKE WIDENS. Members of the UNORD "revolutionaries" association on 20 October joined the hunger strike launched twelve days earlier by other "revolutionaries" protesting the government's decision to amend the law granting benefits to participants in the 1989 uprising. UNORD members went on hunger strike in 11 towns after the government annulled the protocol signed with their organization (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1997). HUNGARIAN PREMIER IN BUCHAREST. Meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Victor Ciorbea, on 20 October, Gyula Horn praised the developing partnership between Budapest and Bucharest. Horn stressed Hungary's readiness to share with Romania its experience on integration in Euro-Atlantic structure. The two premiers also discussed widening economic collaboration and Hungarian investments in Romania. Later the same day, Horn told a crowd in the Transylvanian town of Sfantu Gheorghe (Sepiszentgyorgy) that both countries must act against the "evils of extreme nationalism" that have marred the history of bilateral relations. He added that it is the duty of governments to respect minority rights, which he pledged his government will do, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. Meeting with a visiting delegation led by parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan, Ghiorghi Prisacaru, the head of the Senate's Foreign Policy Commission, said conditions are ripe for concluding "as soon as possible" the basic treaty between the two countries as well as a partnership pact, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Prisacaru said the two sides reached agreement that Moldovan and Romanian experts will resume work on drafting the basic treaty later in October. The delegation also met with Prime Minister Ciorbea, Senate Chairman Petre Roman, and Foreign Minister Adrian Severin. MOLDOVA'S SOCIALISTS PROPOSE ELECTORAL BLOC WITH COMMUNISTS. Valeriu Seniuc, the chairman of the Socialist Unity-- Edinstvo faction in the parliament, told journalists in Chisinau on 20 October that he has sent a letter to Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, proposing that the two parties form an "electoral bloc" for the 1998 parliamentary elections. BASA- press quoted Senic as saying the "left wing" of the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova could also join such a bloc. BULGARIA, IMF AGREE ON DRAFT BUDGET. Bulgaria and the IMF have agreed on a draft budget for 1998, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said on 20 October. He described the proposed budget as an "austerity" one that envisages a deficit of 2.7 percent of GDP, compared with 6.2 percent this year, and an inflation rate of 16-17 percent. An IMF team has been in Sofia over the past two weeks to review the country's economic performance, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said Bulgaria has prepared a letter of intent on the government's economic priorities and hopes to receive the fourth installment of a $510 million loan by December, Reuters reported. Also on 20 October, the government approved a list of 66 state enterprises to be sold through foreign investment banks, BTA reported. END NOTE MILOSEVIC'S RIVAL WINS MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENCY by Patrick Moore Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro. But the only other certainty about his election is that Podgorica's relations with Belgrade will never be what they once were. Milo Djukanovic beat outgoing President Momir Bulatovic in a run-off vote on 19 October by just over 6,000 votes or less than two percent of the total number of votes cast. Turnout was 72 percent. During the campaign, Bulatovic charged that his rivals denied him fair television coverage. Djukanovic, for his part, claimed that Bulatovic's backers manipulated the voting lists and brought in agents from Belgrade to disrupt the elections. The campaign was acrimonious because the stakes were high. The main issue was the future of Montenegro's relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Montenegro and Serbia are the two constituent republics. Bulatovic is a loyal ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who until recently was president of Serbia and who now wants to increase the Yugoslav president's powers. To succeed, Milosevic needs to control Montenegro, because Montenegro and Serbia have an equal number of votes in the upper house of the Yugoslav parliament. That body must approve any constitutional changes to increase Milosevic's powers. Djukanovic, for his part, is committed to autonomy for Montenegro, and he described the election as a referendum on that issue. Djukanovic charged that Milosevic's policies have led to Yugoslavia's isolation, which has hit Montenegro especially hard, since that republic is dependent on tourism and shipping. The rivalry between Djukanovic and Bulatovic has dominated Montenegrin politics all year and led to a de facto split in the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS). The majority of the DPS's governing body backed Djukanovic, but Bulatovic and his supporters still claim to constitute the "real" DPS. Nonetheless, it seems only a question of time before one or the other faction founds a new party under a new name. According to one theory of how Podgorica's relations with Belgrade will develop, Djukanovic is set to lock horns with Milosevic in a major political fight. The outcome of that struggle could be that Montenegro secedes from Yugoslavia and declares independence rather than accept a strong federal presidency. Or it could be that Milosevic is defeated over the constitutional issue and somehow finds a way to become president of Serbia again in order to maintain power. Another view is that Milosevic will not accept defeat over constitutional change but might precipitate a new ethnic conflict as a means to consolidate his power, should Djukanovic win the upper hand in parliament. According to that view, Milosevic may use the current violence in Kosovo to provoke a Slav-Albanian conflict that could spill over into Macedonia. Others, however, point out that Serbian forces are already in fairly firm control of Kosovo and that Milosevic's credentials as a Serbian nationalist are tarnished after he failed to aid the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia in 1995. Yet another theory is that Djukanovic's election will not lead to any major changes because he and Milosevic are both reputedly crafty politicians who will strike a deal rather than engage in a political duel. Those who hold this view point out that Djukanovic has not called for full independence and that he worked together with Bulatovic and Milosevic for years. During this time, Djukanovic reportedly built up a fortune through sanctions-busting. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 2) In the text of your message, type subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName UNSUBSCRIBING: 1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to email@example.com 2) In the text of your message, type unsubscribe RFERL-L Current and Back Issues Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Listen to news for 13 countries RFE/RL programs for countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio. http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html Reprint Policy To receive reprint permission, please contact Paul Goble, Publisher Email: GobleP@rferl.org Phone: 202-457-6947 Fax: 202-457-6992 Postal Address: RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 USA RFE/RL Newsline Staff: * Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org * Liz Fuller, Acting Editor (Transcaucasia) CarlsonE@rferl.org * Patrick Moore, Acting Deputy Editor (West Balkans) MooreP@rferl.org * Michael Shafir (East Balkans) ShafirM@rferl.org * Laura Belin (Russia) BelinL@rferl.org * Bruce Pannier (Central Asia) PannierB@rferl.org * Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org * Mike Gallant, GallantM@rferl.org RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
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